THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND SOCIAL CLASS Analysis of the BBC Series Sherlock
Abstract: The aim of the study is to analyse the language used in the BBC series Sherlock. The focus is on the way the show portrays characters with different social backgrounds and their use of the English language, and whether this reinforces certain ways of thinking about social class. The primary data analysed are the complete DVD collection of all 4 seasons of Sherlock and their transcripts, containing 12 episodes and scripts in total. Manual and digital methods were used for studying linguistic features of standard and non-standard English used by different characters in the series, e.g. in grammar, pronunciation, violation of discourse features and pronunciation. Second, a questionnaire distributed to members of a BBC Sherlock fan forum yielded information about how the audience perceived the modern Sherlock series and how they think it reinforced certain ways of thinking about social class. The main findings showed that a certain reappearing pattern of non-standard linguistic features used in the entire series could be identified and connected to certain characters. The combination of both parts of the results was important and showed that the representation of social class in the BBC Sherlock series highlights the challenge of representing modern society.
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